A small colony of honey bees
A nucleus, or "nuc" as they are commonly known as by beekeepers, is a small colony of honey bees that could be made up for a number of purposes. Common uses are:-
There are many more uses that beekeepers will find as they get more experienced. It is my view that in the active season at least one nucleus per apiary is a very useful asset, if only to provide a queen if one fails in a honey producing colony.
There is no real definition for a nuc, but when writing the BBKA leaflet L014 "BBKA Standard and Guidance Notes for Nuclei", I gave this definition:-
"A nucleus is a well balanced colony on between 3-5 B.S. brood combs. It should have bees, food, brood and a queen.........".
This was intended as guidance for a nuc for sale, so doesn't apply to all situations, but it gives you an idea of what one is, although for your own purposes the strength will go above and below that stated.
The making up of a nuc is very similar to any other form of increase, so I won't repeat it here. Please press the "Increase" button on the top left.
Although effectively a small colony a nuc doesn't always behave like one. In particular the food situation can fluctuate considerably.
Nucs have their own kind of hive. These are variously called "nucleus hives", "nuc hives" or "nuc boxes".
Mininucs are small colonies on non-standard frames that are used for mating queens in.